Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Lynee Gaillet

Second Advisor

Dr. Ashley Holmes

Third Advisor

Dr. Malinda Snow


Scotland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produced some of the most renowned thinkers and scholars whose works are still widely read and admired. This cadre of enlightened philosophers established a framework for critical thinking and reasoning, as well as a foundation for composition studies. One of the literary geniuses whose work drew on this expertise was Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for giving the world Sherlock Holmes in the late 1880s. But Doyle’s contributions are more than mere stories; the Edinburgh native endowed his character with the philosophy he himself gleaned growing up in a culture that prized reasoning, critical thinking, elocution, and elegant composition. This dissertation explores the influences Doyle drew from the great minds of the Scottish Enlightenment and connects them to the character of Sherlock Holmes. In addition, it proposes that Holmes’s philosophy establishes a basis for composition classes, where students are introduced to the concepts of critical thinking, reasoning, and logic, and the key role these concepts play in argumentative writing.